Broadway is dark, as anyone knows who is gnashing his or her teeth over tickets to "Rent" that are now worth the paper an eviction notice is printed on. The Rutherford, N.J.-based Nets Wednesday began sending teams to New York hotels and street locales, dangling a 50% discount on a select ticket to the team's two upcoming games: Friday vs. the Orlando Magic and Saturday vs. the Miami Heat.
The team is saying unrequited theatre lovers can show their tickets at the Izod Center Box Office on game day for a 50% discount on select tickets.
If the Broadway strike concludes before the start of the weekend, the Nets will still honor the ticket offer.
Tiffany Townsend, communications director for NYC & Company, the city's marketing and tourism organization, which is keeping late hours this week as a response to the lights-out on Broadway, says the city had 19 million cultural visitors last year. "Out of that, 10 million take in live entertainment," she says. "In a typical year our visitors spend $5 billion on entertainment." Overall, in 2006, 43.8 million visitors to the city spent nearly $25 billion, per NYC & Co.
Barry Baum, VP of communications at the Forest City Ratner-owned team, says the team's CEO, Brett Yormark, dreamed up the idea. But will theatre-goers make the cultural and physical leap to New Jersey? Baum says the Nets already get fans from across the Hudson, a riverine metaphor for the N.J./N.Y. cultural divide.
"At Monday night's game we had [Tony Award winner "Jersey Boys" cast member] John Lloyd Young singing 'The National Anthem.' He got a huge applause when he came out. We think there's a big crossover because a lot of fans are from the metropolitan area--a lot of people are fans who work in New York."
Baum says that last year the Nets averaged 17,000 attendees per game, and that over the past three years the team has gone from 29th in ticket sales to 11th. "We have done unprecedented marketing," he says. "Our goal is to be the most accessible team in sports." The Nets launched a program recently called All Access.
Two years ago the team hired Petra Pope as vice president of entertainment and event marketing. Pope, who created the Knicks City Dancers team, put together a several in-game programs for the Nets.
"Under Petra we've launched the NETSational Seniors, a 60-plus-year-old dance team, the Nets Kids, dancers team under 13 years old, Team Hype, acrobatics team, upgraded entertainment, including halftime performances, and better national anthem singers, improved lighting and music and an overall better atmosphere," he says.
A big change for the team will come during the 2009-10 season--when the team picks up stakes and moves to Brooklyn, where FCR is building a massive, much-publicized (pro and con) Frank Gehry-designed city-within-a-city near downtown Brooklyn. Plans call for the nets will be housed in the complex's centerpiece venue, Barclays Center.
Once ensconced, the team will be the first in the NBA not to have an exclusive deal with either PepsiCo or Coca-Cola. The team has inked an exclusive deal with Seattle-based Jones Soda as official carbonated soda and soft drink. The deal includes a Jones Soda-branded store at the arena. Jones also sponsors the Seattle Seahawks NFL team.